How Many Backlinks Are Too Much?

These days many webmasters ask how many backlinks are considered too much by major search engines. Many also want to know how fast link building can be to be considered too fast. Both questions would never have been asked in the seventies, when there wasn’t anything like too much or too fast. But time has changed. And since incoming link development plays a major role in the success and failure of websites, both questions need to be answered.

Question: How many inbound links can be considered too much?

Answer: It all depends on certain factors. But, let’s pry a little deeper. Firstly, you have to explain what you mean by the phrase “too much.” Do you mean too much for link popularity, search rank, click traffic or for your site’s health? The reason why many people ask this “too much” question is because they fear incurring search engine penalties. And it is true that the only reason people worry about amassing too much backlinks is because they fear any of the major search engines might penalize them for engaging in black hat SEO.

There are some plausible reasons why a site attracts thousands, or even millions of incoming links from external sites.

  1. The website provides very useful content which entice so many people to naturally link to it.
  2. A website is devoted to a topic that so suddenly generates massive amounts of natural news coverage, like Haiti earthquake did.
  3. Someone is obsessed with SEO and actively seeking links for a website far beyond what is natural to obtain. A notorious way to do this black hat SEO is by using spam bots that post links on writable areas of other people’s sites.

Let’s consider the word “natural” and try to explain what it means in terms of link building. Every site has a some potential for attracting links, but some phenomena of linking are way beyond the site owner’s control, A website can suddenly find itself in the linking spotlight, due to unforeseen circumstances in its niche. When this happens, the website will experience a massive growth in natural backlinks and traffic, due to the incident and the perfectly normal surge in interest in that particular niche. So, any search engine seeking to penalize a website simply because it has accumulated a huge number of links within a short period of time, or a sudden surge in new backlinks, would be able to use an algorithm which has the capability to recognize if the surge is manipulated or natural. It is a good search engine optimization practice to attract links from quality sites with content that are related to one’s niche, in order for search engines to greatly value the links.

Second Question: How fast is considered bad when building new incoming links?

Answer: In some ways, this is the same question. Both pertain to the effect that new links will have on either a new or existing web site. It’s somehow suspicious when a brand new website attracts thousands or millions of inbound links. But in the world we live in, such things can happen, and often there is tangible evidence to support if it’s natural or manipulated. On the same boat, it’s strange when a site that has been on the web for a long time with a long established stable inbound link profile suddenly attracts several hundred or thousand new incoming links over the course of just a few days. But there are sites that have been around for a long time, but suddenly start getting new and natural backlinks fast.

Spotting unnatural linking patterns has been easier for search engines these days. Search engine web spam teams have been active lately spotting and penalizing defaulting sites that aggressively seek links for link spamming. As unscrupulous search engine optimizers get smarter everyday, so do search engine algorithms that detect their patterns.

So, it’s not about how many backlinks is too much or how fast is wrong, but about how natural is one’s link-building exercise.

If your link-building exercise can be trusted as being natural by search engine algorithms, then, you shouldn’t worry about too many backlinks or too fast speed.